Freshwater Fish - Species

Hickory Shad - Click to enlarge photo

Species Specific Regulations

Hickory shad

Freshwater Fishing License required when fishing in freshwater.

Saltwater Fishing License required when fishing in saltwater.

Complete fishing regulations

Guide to Freshwater Fishes

Guide to Freshwater Fishes
(Adobe PDF - 3MB)

Hickory shad (Alosa mediocris)

Description: (Anatomy of a Fish)

Hickory shad are gray green on their back and upper sides that fades to silver. A row of dark spots is present on its sides and the tip of the lower jaw is darkly colored. The mouth is superior with the lower jaw distinctly projecting forward of the snout. 

Range:  It occurs sporadically in the lower parts of coastal rivers, primarily in the Pee Dee, lower Santee, Cooper and Savannah. Recently this species has been collected in Lake Hartwell on the Georgia-South Carolina border, present there presumably as a result of angler introduction.

Average Length:  14-24 inches

Average Size:  4 pounds

Life Expectancy: Approximately 6 years

Preferred Habitat

Atlantic Ocean, but migrates up freshwater rivers to spawn in the Coastal Plain. 

Food Habits

  • Fish, small crabs, aquatic insects, squid and fish eggs.


  • Hickory shad spawn in tidal fresh waters such as creeks, flooded swamps, sloughs and other backwater tributaries to a main channel from February to early March.
  • A six year old females can contain more than 300,000 eggs. After hatching, the young fry remain in freshwater and move towards higher salinity waters by fall. 


Unlike other shad and herring species, hickory shad are not used as food for humans. Little is known about the status of South Carolina's hickory shad population.

Commonly Mistaken Species

Some species of fish which are commonly mistaken for this species:

Literature Cited

Rohde, Fred C, Arndt, Rudolf G., Foltz, Jeffery W., Quattro, Joseph M. 2009. Freshwater Fishes of South Carolina. University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, South Carolina.

Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. 2009. South Carolina Guide to Freshwater Fishes.

Fish Illustration by Duane Raver.